'Poverty Eradication and Economic Development through Tourism'
By SUBHASH GOYAL
The tourism industry continues to receive lip service in India despite awareness worldwide of the industry's potential to wipe out joblessness, promote balanced regional development, higher incomes and growth.
Economic growth has, regrettably, come to be regarded as an end in itself, the reliance being entirely on the trickle-down effect. Unfortunately, although the size of the national cake has increased over time, the rich have become richer, the poor poorer. The resultant sense of alienation of the bulk of the people from the mainstream of economic life is giving rise to helplessness amongst our people.
For far too long our people have been victims of unemployment, hunger, disease, with little prospect of the end to their despicable plight. These pressing issues cannot be wished away. They have to be addressed upfront, and now.
Mr. Subhash Goyal, who has presided over the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) for six consecutive years up to 2000, has brought to bear his ideas and experience, emanating from a ring side view of the tourism industry for over 30 years as a tourism professional, in his book titled "Poverty Eradication and Economic Development through Tourism".
Mr. Goyal prescribes a time-bound Action Plan for tourism development as the recipe for fast track growth of the economy. The plan emphasizes the need for an integrated tourism, civil aviation and airport policy which, according to him "will be able to stop rural-urban migration by creating millions of new jobs at the local level and lead to development of world class infrastructure and finally to all-round growth".
The 10 C's set out in the book - commitment, coordination, communication, clearances, continuity, civil aviation, concessions, cleanliness, contingency plans and community involvement - have been commended by Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Atlantic Airways of the UK, who has written the foreword to the book.
Says Sir Branson: "Mr. Goyal's prescription should become the mantra for everyone who cares about the future prosperity of the great nation, India. In fact, those politicians and senior civil servants dealing directly with tourism and aviation should be forced to recite the 10 points each night before going to sleep!"
The author's appeal is to parliamentarians, planners, policy makers and the tourism practitioners, lest red tape and apathy towards providing jobs to the jobless bog them down.
Tourism, undoubtedly, is the largest industry in the world, the largest sector of the service economy and the fastest growing, generates the most jobs for every rupee invested and is the world's largest export industry.
The book has already received kudos from the Union Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani; Minister for Law, Justice & Company Affairs, Mr. Arun Jaitley; Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Sharad Yadav; Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers (earlier, in charge of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation, Youth Affairs & Sports), Mr. S.S. Dhindsa; and Tourism Secretary and Chairman, PATA International, Mr. M.P. Bezbaruah.
Mr. Advani, while releasing the book at a public function this week (March 21, 2001) commended the Action Plan unveiled by the author and hoped that the various departments of the Government of India would strive to implement the Plan.
Mr. Goyal's book argues convincingly that tourism holds the key to poverty eradication and growth in India and the sooner we unlock the potential, the better it would be.
He points out that the tourism industry has run into snags because tourism is treated as luxury for the elite, the incidence of high taxes, lack of adequate infrastructure, poor preservation of natural and historical assets, poor human resource development, lack of innovativeness in marketing and inadequate security for the foreign as well as domestic tourists.